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Producer Murray McGillivray, a member of the former Livestock and Forage Steering Committee, burns a new commemorative cattle brand, Rafter L backward F, into heritage wood from the former research facilities. Photo: David Stobbe.

U of S Livestock and Forage Centre of Excellence celebrates grand opening

On Oct. 9, the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) and its partners launched the $38-million Livestock and Forage Centre of Excellence (LFCE), a world-class complex of field and science laboratories that will be a powerhouse for innovative research, teaching and industry engagement in all aspects of livestock and forage production.

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A partnership of the U of S, the livestock and forage industries, and the Saskatchewan and federal governments, the LFCE is the largest and most comprehensive centre of its kind in Canada. The LFCE will enable Canadian and international scientists to focus on emerging issues related to beef cattle health, reproduction, nutrition, genetics, and public safety, as well as plant breeding for forage crops, grazing management and environmental issues facing the livestock and forage industries. 

“This unique centre will research and model all aspects of raising livestock on the Prairies, helping to meet the needs of producers and consumers in Canada, while also helping to sustainably produce food for a growing world population,” said U of S President Peter Stoicheff.“It will break down barriers between academics and livestock and forage producers and bring scientists from across disciplines together to promote an integrated approach to solving industry issues.”

Until work began to renovate or construct facilities to fulfil the LFCE vision, Saskatchewan livestock and forage research had been conducted in separate, independently operated and far-flung facilities. The new consolidated approach is expected to improve the transfer of research results and novel technology to livestock and forage producers, veterinarians, economists, environmental engineers, and consumers.

Comprising of 27 quarters of land (over 4300 acres) in two locations, the LFCE will operate three units:  

  • the Beef Cattle Research and Teaching Unit, south of Clavet,which includes a 1,500-head capacity feedlot and intensive environmental monitoring;
  • the Forage and Cow-Calf Research and Teaching Unit, south of Clavet, which includes 300 breeding cows; and 
  • the Goodale Research Farm, southeast of Saskatoon near Floral, which includes 165 breeding cows as well as horses, bison and deer for research. The Goodale farm will be upgraded in 2019.

All partners will be represented on the LFCE’s strategic advisory board. The director of the LFCE will be Kris Ringwall, a beef cattle specialist and former director of North Dakota State University’s Dickinson Research and Extension Centre (DREC), who will start Nov. 1. He will report to the deans of both the College of Agriculture and Bioresources and the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM).

aerial-lfceStudents and faculty from the WCVM, the College of Agriculture and Bioresources, and the College of Engineering will conduct research at the centre.  Students will have hands-on learning opportunities—in the field, with the cattle, and in the centre’s laboratories. 

The centre will offer interactive outreach programs — field days, demonstrations, industry presentations and seminars — to help introduce new techniques and technologies to producers and affiliated industries who see the research as critical to the advancement, sustainability and profitability of the livestock and forage industries, and address issues important to consumers nationally and internationally. Interest in the new research centre is high and many groups, including visiting trade delegations, national and international visitors, and school groups, are expected to tour the facilities.

“The Livestock and Forage Centre of Excellence will be our link from the lab to the land by providing cutting-edge research to ranchers and other producers,” said Duane Thompson, chair of the centre’s strategic advisory board and the owner/operator of Tee Two Land & Cattle Co. Inc., near Kelliher, Sask.

“When we take home information that increases our profitability, it benefits the whole economy. Every $1-million in calves sold results in 22 jobs in this province,” added Thompson. 

The LCFE was funded in part by the federal-provincial Growing Forward 2 agreement, which involved a cost-shared $10-million investment.

“Our government recognizes that it is vitally important to invest in the agriculture and food industry, which is a driver of jobs and economic growth for Canadians. This centre of excellence will allow for important research to be done, giving our producers access to the latest information, technologies and tools they need to help ensure the profitability and sustainability of the livestock and forages industries in Saskatchewan and across Canada,” said Lawrence MacAulay, Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

“Many dedicated partners collaborated on the vision for this integrated centre of excellence that will support the continued success of the livestock and forage industries,” Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister David Marit said. “This centre’s teaching capabilities and research into forage breeding, cattle health, management practices and more will contribute tremendously to the long-term growth, profitability and sustainability of cattle production.”

In addition to the $10 million investment from Growing Forward 2, the centre received funding from Western Economic Diversification as well as from several organizations, corporations and individuals. The university’s contribution is $11 million.

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